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Daily Crunch: Slack and Salesforce execs explain their big acquisition

We learn more about Slack’s future, Revolut adds new payment features and DoorDash pushes its IPO range upward. This is your Daily Crunch for December 4, 2020.
The big story: Slack and Salesforce execs explain their big acquisition
After Salesforce announced this week that it’s acquiring Slack for $27.7 billion, Ron Miller spoke to Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Salesforce President and COO Bret Taylor to learn more about the deal.
Butterfield claimed that Slack will remain relatively independent within Salesforce, allowing the team to “do more of what we were already doing.” He also insisted that all the talk about …

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Daily Crunch: Google fires co-lead of its Ethical AI team

Google fires a leading researcher, Stripe launches a new banking service and WarnerMedia shakes up the theatrical business model. This is your Daily Crunch for December 3, 2020.
The big story: Google fires co-lead of its Ethical AI team
Timnit Gebru, a leading researcher in the field of ethics and artificial intelligence, tweeted last night that Google fired her in response to a message she sent to an internal email list.
Casey Newton obtained the email in question, in which Gebru expressed frustration with her treatment at Google and disappointment at its diversity and inclusion efforts: “We just had a Black research …

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Daily Crunch: Amazon Web Services stumble

An Amazon Web Services outage has a wide effect, Salesforce might be buying Slack and Pinterest tests new support for virtual events. This is your Daily Crunch for November 25, 2020.
And for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving: Enjoy! There will be no newsletter tomorrow, and then Darrell Etherington will be filling in for me on Friday.
The big story: Amazon Web Services stumble
Amazon Web Services began experiencing issues earlier today, which caused issues for sites and services that rely on its cloud infrastructure — as writer Zack Whittaker discovered when he tried to use his Roomba.
Amazon said the issue …

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Daily Crunch: Roblox is going public

Roblox opens its books, Snap makes an acquisition and Pfizer and BioNTech seek regulatory approval for their vaccine. This your Daily Crunch for November 20, 2020.

The big story: Roblox is going public

The child-friendly gaming company filed confidentially to go public in October, but it only published its S-1 document with financial information late yesterday.

How do the numbers look? Well, Roblox is certainly growing quickly — total revenue increased 56% in 2019, and then another 68% in the first three quarters of 2020, when it saw $588.7 million in revenue. At the same time, losses are growing as well, nearly quadrupling to $203.2 million during those same three quarters.

The company also acknowledged that its success depends on its ability to “provide a safe online environment” for children. Otherwise, “business will suffer dramatically.”

The tech giants

Snap acquired Voisey, an app to create music tracks overlaying your own vocals — Voisey users can apply audio filters to their voices, and they can browse and view other people’s Voisey tracks.

Despite commitment to anti-racism, Uber’s Black employee base has decreased — Uber’s latest diversity report shows a decline in the overall representation of Black employees in the U.S.

Google, Facebook and Twitter threaten to leave Pakistan over censorship law — This comes after Pakistan’s government granted blanket powers to local regulators to censor digital content.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Loadsmart raises $90M to further consolidate its one-stop freight and logistics platform — Loadsmart offers booking for freight transportation across land, rail and through ports, all from a single online portal.

ORIX invests $60M in Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd — OurCrowd also says that the two groups will collaborate to create financial products and investment opportunities for the Japanese and global market.

Kea raises $10M to build AI that helps restaurants answer the phone — CEO Adam Ahmad says the startup has created a “virtual cashier” who can do the initial intake with customers, process most routine orders and bring in a human employee when needed.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

If you didn’t make $1B this week, you are not doing VC right — Don’t yell at me, Danny Crichton said it!

Why is GoCardless COO Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas pivoting to become a full-time VC — “I think this is the best moment in entrepreneurship in Europe.”

What is Roblox worth? — A deeper dive into Roblox’s numbers.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Pfizer and BioNTech to submit request for emergency use approval of their COVID-19 vaccine today — These emergency approvals still require supporting information and safety data, but they are fast-tracked relative to the full, formal and more permanent approval process.

Mixtape podcast: Building a structural DEI response to a systemic issue with Y-Vonne Hutchinson — Hutchinson is the CEO of ReadySet, a consulting firm that works with companies to create more inclusive and equitable work environments.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Daily Crunch: Apple cuts App Store fees

Apple is making a big shift in App Store fees, Duolingo raises more funding and Pfizer releases updated vaccine results. This is your Daily Crunch for November 18, 2020.

The big story: Apple cuts App Store fees

Apple is cutting the 30% fee it normally charges for App Store transactions to 15% for some developers — specifically, those who, after Apple’s commission, earn less than $1 million per year.

The company estimates that this will impact the “vast majority” of apps, with more details about eligibility coming in December, before the change takes effect on January 1. Apple has faced increasingly vocal criticism over these fees from companies like Epic Games (whose founder Tim Sweeney compared Epic’s legal battle to “civil rights fights”), and the issue has also come up during antitrust hearings.

“The App Store has been an engine of economic growth like none other, creating millions of new jobs and a pathway to entrepreneurship accessible to anyone with a great idea,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. “Our new program carries that progress forward — helping developers fund their small businesses, take risks on new ideas, expand their teams, and continue to make apps that enrich people’s lives.”

The tech giants

Trump will lose protected Twitter status after his presidency — Twitter has at various times acknowledged that Donald Trump isn’t bound by the same rules that govern the rest of us, but CEO Jack Dorsey said that won’t be the case after he vacates the White House.

Google Pay gets a major redesign with a new emphasis on personal finance — With today’s update and redesign, Google is keeping all the core features intact but also taking the service in a new direction.

Facebook launches E.gg, an experimental collage-making app — The company has described the app as a “digital zine creator” and “GIF collage bonanza.”

Startups, funding and venture capital

Marissa Mayer’s startup launches its first official product, Sunshine Contacts — It’s designed to improve the process of organizing, updating and sharing contact information with others.

Language-learning app Duolingo confirms it has raised $35M on a $2.4B valuation — This is a sizable jump from Duolingo’s $1.65 billion valuation earlier this year, when General Atlantic quietly put $10 million into the company.

Quid raises $320M to loan money to startup employees using their equity as collateral — Quid has already provided loans to employees at 24 companies, including Unity, Palantir, Crowdstrike, Uber and Lyft.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

What China’s fintech market can teach the world — In China, digital payments through mobile phones are ubiquitous, and there is incredible innovation around lending, investments and digital currencies.

With a 2021 IPO in the cards, what do we know about Robinhood’s Q3 performance? — Robinhood’s payment for order flow rose only modestly during Q3, according to a TechCrunch analysis of the company’s disclosures.

Dear Sophie: Can an H-1B co-founder own a Delaware C Corp? — The latest edition of attorney Sophie Alcorn’s advice column answering immigration-related questions about working at tech companies.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective in final clinical trial results analysis — This is an even better efficacy rate than Pfizer reported previously.

Trump fires top US cybersecurity official Chris Krebs for debunking false election claims — Last week, Krebs’ agency released a statement noting that there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Daily Crunch: GitHub reinstates YouTube downloading project

GitHub defies a takedown order, Strava raises a big round and Moderna reports promising COVID-19 vaccine results. This is your Daily Crunch for November 16, 2020.

The big story: GitHub reinstates YouTube downloading project

Back in October, the Recording Industry Association of America sent a DMCA complaint to GitHub over a project called YouTube-dl, which allows viewers to download YouTube videos for offline viewing. According to the trade group, YouTube-dl both circumvented DRM and, in its documentation, promoted the piracy of several popular songs.

However, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent GitHub a letter criticizing the RIAA’s argument and suggesting that, among other things, it mischaracterizes how YouTube-dl’s code actually works.

In response, GitHub has restored the project’s code. It also says it’s rethinking how it will handle takedown notices in the future, with a new $1 million developer defense fund and the response of technical and legal review of any future claims filed under section 1201 of the DMCA.

The tech giants

You can now embed Apple Podcasts on the web — Apple is making it easier to discover and listen to podcasts via the web.

Apple’s IDFA gets targeted in strategic EU privacy complaints — The complaints, lodged with German and Spanish data protection authorities, contend that Apple’s setting of the IDFA breaches regional privacy laws.

Spotify adds a built-in podcast playlist creation tool, ‘Your Episodes’ — The feature lets you bookmark individual episodes from any podcast, which are then added to a new “Your Episodes” playlist.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Strava raises $110M, touts growth rate of 2 million new users per month in 2020 — Strava has 70 million members already according to the company, with presence in 195 countries globally.

Squarespace adds support for memberships and paywalled content — Squarespace’s new Member Areas allow businesses to charge for access to exclusive content.

Computer vision startup Chooch.ai scores $20M Series A — Chooch.ai hopes to help companies adopt computer vision more broadly.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Will edtech empower or erase the need for higher education? — Campuses are closed, sports have been paused and, understandably, students don’t want to pay the same tuition for a fraction of the services.

Three growth tactics that helped us surpass Noom and Weight Watchers — Over the past year, nutrition app Lifesum has acquired users at nearly twice the rate of both Noom and Weight Watchers.

Unpacking the C3.ai IPO filing — C3 is actually in pretty good financial shape, generating both growing recurring software revenues and cash in some quarters.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Moderna reports its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective in first data from Phase 3 trial — Following fast on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement of its COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, Moderna is also sharing positive results from its Phase 3 trial.

HBO Max arrives on Amazon Fire TV devices — As a part of the new deal, existing HBO subscribers on Amazon will be able to use the HBO Max app at no additional cost.

Original Content podcast: ‘The Vow’ offers a muddled look at the NXIVM cult — It’s a fascinating documentary hampered by some unfortunate storytelling choices.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Daily Crunch: Apple releases macOS Big Sur

The latest Mac operating system arrives, Amazon faces a lawsuit over PPE and Disney+ turns one. This is your Daily Crunch for November 12, 2020.

The big story: Apple releases macOS Big Sur

This update, which was first announced five months ago at WWDC, includes a number of design changes that continue to blur the line between macOS and iOS.

One of the big additions is the Control Center, an iOS/iPadOS feature that presents a translucent pane down the right side of the screen. Meanwhile, Safari added features like built-in translation. And app icons and sounds have been updated throughout.

Brian Heater has been using the beta since June, and he concluded that Big Sur “boasts some key upgrades to apps and the system at large, but more importantly from Apple’s perspective, it lays the groundwork for the first round of Arm-powered Macs and continues its march toward a uniformity between the company’s two primary operating systems.”

The tech giants

Facebook’s Snapchat-like ‘Vanish Mode’ feature arrives on Messenger and Instagram — The feature, meant for more casual conversations, allows users to set chats to automatically delete after the message is seen and the chat is closed.

Amazon faces lawsuit alleging failure to provide PPE to workers during pandemic — The class action suit alleges Amazon failed to properly protect its warehouse workers and violated elements of New York City’s human rights law.

Apple HomePod Mini review: Remarkably big sound — A smart speaker for the masses.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Menlo Security announces $100M Series E on $800M valuation — CEO and co-founder Amir Ben-Efraim told us the startup remains focused on web and email as major attack vectors.

Livestorm raises $30M for its browser-based meeting and webinar platform — It’s purely browser based, without requiring presenters or attendees to install any software.

Nana nabs $6M for an online academy and marketplace dedicated to appliance repair — Nana runs a free academy to teach people how to fix appliances, then gives them the option to become a part of its repair marketplace.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Are subscription services the future of fintech? — As subscriptions become an increasingly alluring business model, fintechs will have to consider whether this strategy is worth the risk.

Conflicts in California’s trade secret laws on customer lists create uncertainty — Read this before you jump ship or hire a salesperson who already has.

As public investors reprice edtech bets, what’s ahead for the hot startup sector? — Selling edtech on the vaccine news (as investors did) was a bet that growth in the sector would be constrained by a return to normalcy.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Disney+ has more than 73M subscribers — The streaming service launched one year ago today.

L’Oréal rolls out a line of ‘virtual makeup’ — This builds on L’Oréal’s 2018 acquisition of an augmented reality filter company called Modiface.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Daily Crunch: Google Photos will end free, unlimited storage

Google changes its storage policy, Facebook extends its political ad ban and Ring doorbells are recalled. This is your Daily Crunch for November 11, 2020.

The big story: Google Photos will end free, unlimited storage

Google is changing its storage policies for free accounts in a way that could have a big impact on anyone regularly using Google Photos.

Currently, Google Photos allows users to store unlimited images (and HD video) as long as they’re under 16 megapixels. Starting on June 1, 2021, new photos and videos will all count toward the 15 gigabytes of free storage that the company offers to anyone with a free Google account.

Google says it will take the average user three years to reach 15 gigabytes — at which point they’ll either need to delete some photos or pay for a Google One account. Also on June 1: Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms and Jamboard files will start counting toward your storage total as well.

The tech giants

Facebook extends its temporary ban on political ads for another month — The company says the temporary ban will continue for at least another month.

ByteDance asks federal appeals court to vacate US order forcing it to sell TikTok — TikTok’s parent company says it remains committed to a negotiated solution and will only try to stop the government from forcing a sale “if discussions reach an impasse.”

Ring doorbells recalled over fire threat — The recall comes in the wake of 23 reports of fire and eight reports of minor burns.

Startups, funding and venture capital

SentinelOne, an AI-based endpoint security firm, confirms $267M raise on a $3.1B valuation — SentinelOne’s Singularity monitors and secures laptops, phones and other network-connected devices and services.

E-commerce startup Heroes raises $65M in equity and debt to become the Thrasio of Europe — The company has a strategy of acquiring and scaling high-performing Amazon businesses.

Seedcamp raises £78M for its fifth fund — This new fund increases the amount of capital the firm will invest in pre-seed and seed-stage companies.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Dear Sophie: What does Biden’s win mean for tech immigration? — Attorney Sophie Alcorn looks at the presidential election’s impact on U.S. immigration and immigration reform.

Greylock’s Asheem Chandna on ‘shifting left’ in cybersecurity and the future of enterprise startups — Enterprise software is changing faster this year than it has in a decade.

Square and PayPal earnings bring good (and bad) news for fintech startups — Square’s earnings give us a window into consumer payment activity, card usage, stock purchases and more.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Honda to mass-produce Level 3 autonomous cars by March — Honda claims it will be the first automaker to mass-produce vehicles with autonomous capabilities that meet SAE Level 3 standards.

Data audit of UK political parties finds laundry list of failings — The audit claims parties are failing to come clean with voters about how they’re being invisibly profiled and targeted.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Daily Crunch: Apple unveils new Macs

Apple announces “One More Thing” before the holiday season, Uber lets you reserve rides 30 days in advance and Spotify makes another podcast acquisition. This is your Daily Crunch for November 10, 2020.

The big story: Apple unveils new Macs

During an unusually brief and focused “One More Thing” event, Apple announced three new Macs that will all use the M1 chip, its first chip for Macs. This is the beginning of a previously announced shift of the Mac lineup to Apple silicon.

What about the actual Macs? Well, there’s a new MacBook Air, which still costs $999 but is supposed to be 3.5x faster than the previous generation — and it doesn’t include a fan! There’s also a new Mac Mini with a base price of $699, and a 13-inch MacBook Pro that starts at $1,299.

Oh, and Big Sur, the latest version of the Mac operating system, will be released this Thursday, November 12.

The tech giants

Uber will now let users book rides 30 days in advance and pick a favorite driver — The new option, called Uber Reserve, will begin to show up on the app in the next week.

Google adds COVID-related health and safety info to Google Travel — When users search for hotels and vacation rental properties through Google Travel, they may see new information about COVID-19 safety precautions at the property.

Spotify buying podcast hosting and ad company Megaphone for $235M — Spotify already had an existing partnership with the company, including use of its hosting services.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Hopin raises $125M for its online events platform on the back of surging growth — TechCrunch is one of the customers for Hopin’s online events platform.

Spearhead launches $100M fourth fund to transform founders into top-notch VC investors — The premise remains simple: offer founders with great networks and hustle $1 million in capital to go out and start writing angel checks and build their own portfolio.

Carbon Health raises $100M with plans to expand pop-up clinics ahead of COVID-19 vaccination programs — The company plans to open 100 pop-up clinics in 20 markets across the U.S.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Five VCs discuss the future of SaaS and software after Pfizer’s vaccine breakthrough — SaaS stocks sold sharply on good vaccine tidings, but do VCs care?

Accelerators embrace change forced by pandemic — We spoke with the heads of three accelerators about the challenges and opportunities presented by the new virtual environment.

What I wish I’d known about venture capital when I was a founder — TheVentureCity’s Andy Arieto shares some knowledge.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

All Slingbox devices will stop working in two years — All Slingbox products will become less and less functional, leading up to a full shutdown two years from today.

House Reps ask FCC to ‘stop work on all partisan, controversial items’ during transition — This likely includes the FCC’s effort to reinterpret Section 230, an important protection for internet platforms, at the Trump administration’s request.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Daily Crunch: Netflix tests a linear video channel

Netflix takes an old-fashioned approach for its latest feature, Amazon plans a new data center in India and we review the PlayStation 5. This is your Daily Crunch for November 6, 2020.

The big story: Netflix tests a linear video channel

Today in surprising product strategies: Netflix is testing a linear channel in France called Netflix Direct, according to Variety.

To be clear, it’s not a regular TV channel but rather something you access on Netflix’s website. But like a broadcast or cable channel, it ditches streaming’s on-demand side. Instead, you watch whatever movie or TV show is playing right now.

Netflix previously tested a Shuffle button, so apparently it’s very interested in exploring a viewer experience where you just turn the TV on and veg out. The service says it’s testing this in France because “many viewers like the idea of programming that doesn’t require them to choose what they are going to watch.”

The tech giants

Review: Sony’s PlayStation 5 is here, but next-generation gaming is still on its way — Devin Coldewey writes that the new generation of consoles is both a hard and an easy sell.

Amazon to invest $2.8 billion to build its second data center region in India — The investment will allow Amazon to launch an AWS Cloud region in Hyderabad by mid-2022.

Steve Bannon’s show pulled off Twitter and YouTube over calls for violence — Bannon had his show suspended from Twitter and an episode removed by YouTube after calling for violence against FBI director Christopher Wray and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Challenger bank Starling is out raising a new £200M funding round — Having raised £363 million to date, including a £100 million state-aid grant, Starling now boasts 1.9 million customers.

Chinese autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai hits $5.3 billion valuation — The company has raised more than $1 billion since its founding, including $400 million from Toyota.

Provizio closes $6.2M seed round for its car safety platform using sensors and AI — The startup has a “five-dimensional” sensory platform that supposedly perceives, predicts and prevents car accidents in real time and beyond the line-of-sight.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Startups making meat alternatives are gaining traction worldwide — New partnerships with global chains like McDonald’s in Hong Kong, the launch of test kitchens in Israel and new financing rounds for startups in Sydney and Singapore point to abounding opportunities.

Software companies are reporting a pretty good third quarter — It’s great news for startups looking for capital heading into 2021.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Europe urges e-commerce platforms to share data in fight against coronavirus scams — The concern here is not only consumers being ripped off, but also the real risk of harm if people buy a product that does not actually protect them as claimed.

Elon Musk’s Tesla tequila will run you $250 a bottle — Sure, why not.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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